PCB | December 10, 2007

Innovative SMD placement strategies<br>support PCB market demand

Software capability and feeder designs represent the key highlights for new surface mount device (SMD) placement machines.
In particular, an easy configuration process for the automated assembly line emphasizes the changeover during production and zero-downtime feature. Better robotic controls, user interface, programming, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, intelligent feeder designs and other add-ons all assist with easy configuration.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Emerging Trends in SMD Placement, finds that market and product demands have resulted in smaller, as well as lighter, printed circuit boards (PCBs) capable of carrying more components. These demands have led to a higher requirement for replacement accuracy and throughput, thereby necessitating continuous improvements in the SMD assembly process.

Surface mount technology is the standard production technique used to build printed circuit boards (PCB) that drive devices such as electrical appliances, electronic gadgets and industrial equipment.

“Leading SMD placement equipment manufacturers are introducing new machines with faster placement rates and higher accuracies,” notes Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights Research Analyst Krishnakumar Srinivasan. “This is achieved by the improvement of the vision system, servo system, feeder design, fixating system, optimization software and nozzle design.”

With the introduction of smaller 01005 packaging, manufacturers have to return to the drawing board to provide design support for these components. While placement rate and accuracy at one end consistently continue to be performance-marking factors of the process and equipment, the industry has started looking at other aspects of technology like solder material, packaging and conveyor systems as trivial entities which impact the development curve of advanced SMD placement technologies.

“Modular designs are becoming more important in the new SMD placement systems,” says Srinivasan. “With the increasing mix of product types and packaging, new machines need to provide higher versatility and robustness in handling these challenges. This has direct impact on the head technology, line-balancing strategies, optimization issues and vision systems.”

The emergence of hybrid placement machines addresses the need to support production environments with high product mix. These machines help maximize throughput while reducing wear and tear caused by changeovers without causing unnecessary downtime.

Emerging Trends in SMD Placement is part of the Surface Mount Technology Technical Insights Growth Partnership Service program, which provides a technology overview and outlook for SMD placement. It also focuses on various SMDs and associated methodologies prevalent today with a major emphasis on emerging SMDs. Furthermore, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.


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